Carrot Cake Cupcakes (healthier!)
Now that everyone has their Easter eggs colored it time to concern ourselves with the important things. Some of us hide candy filled eggs around the yard. Others go to church, or bake a ham. Me? I don’t like green eggs and ham. But as you know, I’m always thinking about food. Are you having ham or lamb?
Easter wouldn’t be Easter without my carrot cupcakes loaded with cream cheese frosting. Or even deviled eggs. Wild Salmon with roasted asparagus topped with Hollandaise sauce (recipes below.) I like to change things up and serve both traditional dishes and add in something new each year. Here are a few easy appetizers and other favorites that I have in mind for Easter dinner, or anytime… What’s your favorite?
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Carrot Cake or Cupcakes~
- 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
- 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, (see Ingredient note)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (or sweetener)
- 3/4 cup non-fat buttermilk, (see Tip)
- 1/2 cup canola or light olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup raisins and/or
- 1/2 cup wild Maine blueberries (optional)
- zest from 1 lemon or orange (optional)
- 2 cups grated carrots, (4-6 medium)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tip)
- 12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchâtel), softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons toasted flaked coconut (optional garnish)
- 2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts (optional garnish)
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9″X 13″ baking pan or cupcake tins with cooking spray
- Drain the pineapple in a colander or sieve set over a bowl, pressing out the juice. Reserve the drained pineapple and 1/4 cup of the juice.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and the 1/4 cup pineapple juice in a large bowl until blended. Stir in pineapple, (raisins and/or blueberries) carrots, 1/4 cup coconut and zest. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until blended. Stir in the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
- Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cupcakes take 20 minutes or so. Let it cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
- To prepare frosting: Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light, smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake or cupcakes. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and/or toasted walnuts for a lovely presentation.
TIPS & NOTES
- Ingredient Notes: Whole-wheat pastry flour (finely ground), lower in protein than regular whole-wheat flour, has less gluten-forming potential, making it a better choice for tender baked goods. You can find it in the natural-foods section of large super markets and natural-foods stores. You can store it in the freezer.
- Tips: No buttermilk? Make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk. You may use lite sour cream or Greek yogurt.
- To toast chopped walnuts and coconut chips, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes, watching carefully.